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Speaker Warns of Downsides of Social Media Use

Speaker Warns of Downsides of Social Media Use

Speaker Warns of Downsides of Social Media Use


Mr. Stossel formerly designed algorithms for technology company.

Staff Writer

January 18, 2024

Katharine Ellis '26

On the evening of Tuesday, January 9, students participated in school-wide wellness programming that included an address from Max Stossel and a game of “Find the Faculty.” 

Max Stossel is an award-winning filmmaker, poet, and speaker. He is the founder of Social Awakening, an organization that helps teens, schools, and parents navigate the digital world. 

With his previous experience working for a technology company, Stossel has a deep understanding of the algorithms used by social media and the dangers they pose for adolescents today. Named “one of the best storytellers of the year” by Forbes magazine, Stossel is known internationally for his compelling presentations. 

The school first became aware of Stossel after he was recommended to Mr. Andrew D’Ambrosio, dean of student life, by a peer school. The Wellness Committee, a group of faculty and students focused on improving community mental health, began planning to bring Stossel to campus. Mrs. Carrie Smith, director of student wellness, said, “Stossel’s programming aligned well with the newly instituted cell phone policy. We wanted the community to think about their phone usage and the benefits of imposing some limitations on our engagement with electronics.” 

During Stossel’s talk, he highlighted various addictive properties integrated into social media platforms and the dangers technology poses to teenager’s mental health. From bold red Instagram tags and Netflix’s “Keep Watching” button, to Snapchat streaks and YouTube autoplay, Stossel showed students some of the endless strategies technology companies utilize in order to keep users engaged. He explained the dangers of the so-called slot machine effect a reward structure that keeps users hooked on apps. He reminded his audience to keep in mind the question, “Am I using technology or is technology using me?” 

Stossel concluded his talk by giving students some strategies to help manage their engagement with the digital world. These included turning off alerts that aren’t from people, controlling who you follow, and even agreeing with friends to delete a toxic app. Students then answered question. Some even announced that they had deleted their most addictive social media platform thanks to Stossel’s advice. 

After Stossel’s talk, students gathered with their advisory groups to participate in a game of “Find the Faculty.” Faculty and staff members hid throughout the Main Building. Students who found them received stickers; faculty gathered selfies with the successful groups. The game was designed to draw students away from their devices and encourage them to have fun with their peers. Caroline Bliss ’25, member of the student wellness council, said, “We believed that this phone-free activity would help us reinforce the ideas of Stossel and grow as a community.” 

After the game, hot cider and donuts were served in the Student Center as students socialized and enjoyed a night free of homework.

Katharine Ellis is a staff writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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